Qatzion Synagogue and Lintel Dedicatory Inscription


1.      The inscription at Qatzion:

a.       Date: Between 196 and 198 C.E., probably 197 C.E.

b.      Literature: Kohl and Watzinger, Antiken Synagogen, 160-61; Chiat, Handbook; 62-63; Hachlili, Land of Israel, 212, 396-97; Foerster, Galilean Synagogues, 103-5; Fine, "Late Antique Palestine"; Runesson, Origins, 175, n. 18; Levine, Ancient Synagogue, 84.

2.      The text of the lintel inscription is translated by Chiat as follows:

“For the salvation of the Roman Caesars,

L[ucius] Sept[imius] Severus Pius

Pert[inax] Aug[ustus], and M[arcus]

Aur[elius] A[nton]inus [[and L[ucius]

Sept[imius] G]]eta, their sons, by a

vow of the Jews.”

3.      Discussion:

a.       Located 9 kilometres northeast of Safed, the remains of this edifice were first discovered in the 19th century.

b.      Dedicatory inscriptions for the health or long life of non-Jewish rulers and emperors are well attested in Jewish inscriptions from Egypt in relation to proseuchei (prayer halls) or specific structures within them (cf. below, Nos. 144, 150-152, 156, 158, 159). The Mindius Faustus inscription from Ostia, dating to the second century (No. 176), is another example. The present inscription is the only one of its kind from the land of Israel. However, it has not been established whether the structure is in fact a synagogue (Foerster), or if the Jews mentioned donated a non-Jewish temple to Graeco-Roman inhabitants of the area (Kohl and Watzinger; Fine). The fact that a Jewish community could donate a temple to non-Jews should not surprise us, since non-Jewish donations of synagogues to Jewish Diaspora communities are well attested (cf. No. 103, Julia Severa). Modem religious sensitivities should not be applied to ancient social systems of benefaction. Until further excavations can determine the nature of the edifice, it seems best to understand the remains as belonging to a non-Jewish temple.” (The Ancient Synagogue from its Origins to 200 AD, Anders Runesson, p64, 2008 AD)

c.       “The archaeological remains of the building connected to the Theodotos inscription are too scanty for this edifice to be included in the present discussion, even if its location is almost certainly just south of the temple mount where the inscription was found. Similarly, we have not enough information on the Qatzion building from the second century, nor is it possible to discuss the 'prayer room' of Shuafat. Future excavations on these three sites are indeed welcome and may solve many problems pertaining to the development of early 'synagogues'.” (The origins of the Synagogue, Anders Runesson, footnote 395, p359, 2001 AD)


a.       After investigations by Kohl and Watzinger, as well as others, the site was abandoned only to be rediscovered in the late 20th century.

b.      Since the building has not been completely excavated, further investigations are crucial in order to enable well-founded judgments regarding the nature of this structure.

c.       At the moment, the most important find is a lintel containing a six-line Greek dedicatory inscription mentioning the Roman emperor Septimius Severus. It securely dates the structure to 197 C.E.



By Steve Rudd 2017: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections


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Master introduction: Summary overview is the place to start to tie it all together.

Providence: God’s eternal plan: The providential transition from Temple to Synagogue to Church

Origin: Synagogues originated at Alexandria Egypt in 280 BC spawned by the Septuagint

Jesus the Messiah of the Tanakh:

1.       First Century Jewish Messianic Expectation: As witnessed in the Dead Sea scrolls.

2.       Looking for the wrong thing: Mistaken Jewish ideas of the Messiah in 30 AD.

3.       Jesus fulfilled Prophecy: Master list of fulfilled messianic prophecies

4.       Jesus fulfilled Prophecy: "He shall be called a Nazarene (branch)" Matthew 2:23

5.       Jesus fulfilled Prophecy: “Jesus would rise the third day” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

Synagogue Architectural Prototypes in the Church:

1.         Standard architectural synagogue typology: Introduction, Master Chart

2.         Mikveh for Ritual Purity: The Christian Maker

3.         Ritual purity stone Vessels: Stoneware cups and wash basins

4.         Freestanding Columns: Antitype of Christians

5.         Artwork: Heart-Shaped Columns

6.         The bema: Prototype of the Church Pulpit

7.         Synagogue Benches: Metaphor of Equality in Christ

8.         Women Seating in Synagogues: Not segregated from men

9.         The Moses’ Seat: Metaphor of Pride

10.    Niches & Ark of The Scrolls: Prototype of Church Apse

11.    Table of the Scrolls: Prototype of Communion Table

12.    Byzantine Church Architecture: Octagonal and Basilica

13.    Orientation: Early Synagogues did not Point to Jerusalem

14.    The Church replaced the Temple: Replacement theology is pure Christianity

Synagogue Worship Prototypes in the Church:

15.    Worship prototypes: Introduction and Master Summary Chart

16.    Collective Names of Synagogues: House of Prayer, Temple, Church

17.    Organization of Synagogues: Elders, officials, attendants, Independent, autonomous

18.    Attendance: Weekly Sabbath Assemblies in Synagogues absent from Tanakh

19.    Public Bible readings: Preaching and Teaching In Synagogues

20.    Greek Septuagint: The Standard Tanakh of every ancient synagogue

21.    Greek Septuagint scroll of the Twelve Minor Prophets written in 50 BC

22.    Prayer in Synagogues: “House of prayer” Proseuche

23.    Food: Sacred Passover Meals, No Common Meals In Synagogues

24.    Sermon Topics in Synagogues: How Christians used the Tanakh to convert Jews

25.    Singing in Synagogues: Non-Instrumental Acapella Responsive Singing

26.    Benevolence Money: Freewill Weekly First fruits Collections for poor in Synagogues

27.    Education: Schools and Literacy of Jews In Synagogues

28.    Role of Women in Synagogues: Never leaders, preachers but never segregated

29.    Sanctuary Status: Refugees seeking Asylum in Synagogues

30.    Appendages: Hostels, Housing and Food Banks in Synagogues

31.    Civil Court: Judgements, beatings and scourging in Synagogues

32.    Civic Meetings: Political Town Hall assemblies in Synagogues

33.    Christians replaced Jews: Replacement theology is pure Christianity

Synagogue Occupation Date (SOD)= Excavation date + Inscriptional date + Literary date 

Allusions: Synagogue worship allusions and imagery in the New Testament

Master builder Stonemason Jesus: “Upon this Rock I will build My church

Everyday life: Archeology of Everyday Life and Homes at the time of Jesus

Master List: Master list of First Temple Period, Pre-70 AD Synagogues

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